The Indian government's decision to not include two US companies – Lockheed Martin and Boeing – for its multi billion fighter jet deal was a "sad mistake", a former top American diplomat said on Monday.
"My feeling is that the decision was a sad mistake, and to some extent a serious one, but one that the United States and the companies involved quite wisely have tried to treat as part of the process of doing business," former US ambassador to India, Thomas Pickering, told the National Bureau of Asian Research, a Washington-based think tank in an interview.
"In business, one must come to know that you don't win them all; you stay in business because, in the long term, you think you make better products. Only bad businessmen create animosity among their customers.
"In the end, if it turns out that the European planes cost more than either of the American options, then the Indian military will have to answer for its decision," Pickering said.
The real question is security, he said, and that depends a lot on capacities.
"If a country is buying second-rate equipment to maintain its security when it could procure first-rate equipment, does this make any sense, even if the equipment is manufactured by a country that would like to be a close ally? But some of the distrust of the old days still hangs on," Pickering said.